The concept of Equally Matched Aggression is the principle that archenemies (or "arches" for short) should be paired together according to general level of power and resources. To this end, the EMA Level ranking system is used by The Guild of Calamitous Intent and the Office of Secret Intelligence to pair antagonists and protagonists with each other such that they are relatively on the same playing field of power.
History and Description
The EMA Level sorting system was instituted after the relatively weak villain Turnbuckle attempted to kidnap Rusty and was ruthlessly beaten to death by The Action Man. Turnbuckle was totally outclassed when he took on Team Venture, which is why a power ranking system was instituted.
A villain or protagonist's personal power or abilities aren't the only things that influence EMA Level. A low-level ranked participant could potentially knock off higher ranked enemies if he got the drop on them, as was the case with the low-ranked The Monarch against several of Wide Wale's Fiends and Family Plan policy holders. Equipment, henchpersons, vehicles, bases, and even hygiene go into this multifaceted ranking system.
A person's EMA Level may lower or rise in relation to the ups and downs of a person's wealth and resources, as has happened with Dr. Thaddeus "Rusty" Venture when he inherited VenTech Industries. On the other hand, wealth and underlings won't necessarily make up for villainous incompetence and general lack of menace, as is the case with Augustus St. Cloud. Despite vast riches and a highly competent servant, Augustus St. Cloud has a mere EMA Level of 1.
Thwarting enemies can also raise a person's EMA Level ranking, as is the case with The Monarch. Bringing in money, technological resources, and even the heads of slain enemies can also increase arching level. Finally, there is also the Big Villain Program, a villainous mentoring program that can garner cred with the EMA review board.
The EMA sorting system is not perfect. The Monarch is a case study. On the one hand, when he was an EMA Level 4 villain, he completely overwhelmed a theoretically equal match, Dr. Heinie, single-handedly without any appreciable resistance to speak of. On the other hand after gaining EMA Level 5, The Monarch could not even hurt or even anger his EMA Level 5 arch Professor Victor Von Helping aside from taking his students hostage. This hostage-taking caused Helping to fly into a furious rage that had The Monarch and Henchman 21 hiding under furniture for dear life. It must also be considered that the professor did not want or desire to be a super villain or super hero so that may account for his low level.
Regardless of the EMA's imperfections, defying it can lead to disaster. This is demonstrated by the case of Dr. Deep vs. Furious Red in 1989. What was supposed to be a Level 5 arching turned into a disaster that destroyed a city block, ended two innocent lives, and caused a scandal in the tabloids. Dr. Deep, an OSI affiliated super-scientist, used an unlicensed and undeclared Level 8 pulse cannon on Furious Red, blowing up his rib cage. Furious Red died a week later while in intensive care.
The Guild of Calamitous Intent may perform a ritualistic "Tenning" ceremony for a member before granting them the ultimate title of Level 10 Villain. The Monarch and Henchman 21 were subjected to one such ceremony in the Season 7 episode The Saphrax Protocol, with The Monarch serving as Saphrax (the first villain) and Henchman 21 as Altheaeus (the first henchman). The two play-acted a series of scripted trials, culminating in The Monarch being given the option to slay his mortal enemy--Dr. Venture--completely free of consequences or repercussions, with the caveat that Henchman 21 would become a Level 4 villain in his own right and no longer aid The Monarch in his grudge.
The Monarch and Henchman 21 both chose to quit the Guild rather than go their separate ways and swore an allegiance to each other which, unbeknownst to them, was precisely how the Guild wanted them to react. Revealing that the two had passed their test, the Guild Council formally awarded both The Monarch and Henchman 21 the rank of Level 10 Villain, with The Monarch as the primary antagonist and Henchman 21 as his loyal Number Two.
Known Assessors of EMA
Characters Sorted by EMA Level
EMA Level 1
EMA Level 3
EMA Level 4
EMA Level 5
EMA Level 10
- Boggles the Clue Clown (deceased)
- Don Hell (deceased)
- Dr. Phineas Phage
- Dr. Mrs. The Monarch
- Dr. Thaddeus "Rusty" Venture (mostly due to the inheritance of VenTech Industries from Jonas Venture Jr.)
- Dr. Z
- Force Majeure (deceased)
- Haranguetan (deceased)
- Henchman 21
- Maestro Wave (deceased)
- Mommy Longlegs (deceased)
- Monseñor (deceased)
- Phantom Limb
- Radical Left
- Ramburglar (deceased)
- Red Death
- Red Mantle
- Steppenwolf (deceased)
- The Monarch
- The Nerve (deceased)
- The Sovereign (deceased)
- The Termite (deceased)
- The Wandering Spider (deceased)
- Think Tank
- Vendata (deceased)
- Wes Warhammer and The Doom Factory (all deceased)
- Wide Wale
- Wild Fop (deceased)
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- The Inamorata Consequence
- The Terminus Mandate
- Bot Seeks Bot
- The Saphrax Protocol